Runners Prachi Choudhary and Chhavi Sharawat have filed a petition against Athletics Federation of India in Supreme Court, claiming that AFI has been arbitrary in their selection policies. Prachi stated that after their protest AFI changed the rules overnight to keep both of them out of Asiad squad.
Top middle-distance runners of the country, Prachi Choudhary
The apex court on July 20 admitted the petition and sent notices to the AFI and sports ministry. The court has asked the AFI to file its reply on July 26 when justice S A Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao would be hearing the case. Both the runners are from Uttar Pradesh, but Prachi has been studying in Punjabi University in Patiala.
"Injustice has been done to the two runners, despite them finishing among the top four during the selection trials for the Asiad. We have filed a genuine case and it has also been admitted by the Supreme Court," DK Garg, the lawyer of the two runners, said as quoted by TOI.
Prachi had won the bronze medal in 400m race during the 58th National Senior Athletics Championship, which was organized by the AFI in Guwahati, while Chhavi was ranked fourth in the same race. The championship constituted selection trials for the Asian Games. However, both Prachi and Chhavi were snubbed, despite finishing among the top 4 in the trial event.
"Their (Prachi and Chhavi) names were replaced with the names of Vijay Kumari, Vismaya V K and Jisna Mathew - these three athletes didn't even take part in the final race," said Garg. "These three athletes were not allowed to participate in the final race, because, in the heats, they failed to complete the race in the qualifying time that was set beforehand," he added.
The athletes, who finished 6th, 7th and 8th in the final race, have been included in the final squad by the AFI. In their petition, Prachi and Chhavi have urged the apex court to direct the AFI to rearrange the list and include their names in the 4x400m women's relay team. Prachi alleged that after they protested, the AFI changed its rule overnight in order to keep her and Chhavi out.
"The Indian Olympic Association's rules clearly state that the athletes who finish in top six will directly qualify for the Asiad. We finished third and fourth and were still overlooked. The AFI is openly flouting and bending the rules and regulations. They have come up with a new rule.
"And according to that, the athletes who have not attended the national camp organized by AFI shall not be allowed to participate in the Asian Games - irrespective of their performance during the selection trials. This new rule has been imposed all of a sudden. Interestingly, Vijay Kumari and Jisna Mathew, who have been selected by the AFI, have neither attended the national camp nor participated in the senior athletics championship. The AFI is functioning totally in an arbitrary manner," said Prachi.